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Kelly Ferguson

Ph.D. Candidate (ABD)


Ph.D., Hispanic Studies, University of Kentucky, May 2023 (expected)

Certificates: Gender and Women’s Studies; Social Theory

M.A. Spanish, Bowling Green State University, 2014

B.A. Spanish, B.A. Business Administration, Siena Heights University, 2012

Honors and Awards, University of Kentucky

Outstanding Service to the Department Award, 2022

Three Minute Thesis Dissertation Defense (3MT) People’s Choice Award, 2021

College of Arts and Science Outstanding Teaching Assistant, 2021

McCrary Award Outstanding Second-Year Graduate Student, 2020

Hispanic Studies Award for Second-Year Teaching Assistant, 2020

Hispanic Studies Summer Travel Grant, 2019               


“Truth in Horror: Cinematic Representations of Social Violence in Spain, Latin America, and the Latinx US”

Committee: Dierdra Reber (advisor), Matt Losada, Carmen Moreno-Nuño, Ana Rueda, Tad Mutersbaugh (Geography)


My dissertation, Truth in Horror: Cinematic Representation of Social Violence in Spain, Latin American, and the Latinx United States, investigates the recent explosion of political horror films that straddle the past and present, reflecting both the current political moment and the polemic historical memories of state repression against racialized others and ideological dissidents. Chapter One, “Paranoid Horror and the Return of Franco,” studies four Spanish horror films, Tras el cristal (1986), Pa negre (2010), Mientras duermes (2011), and Musarañas (2014), all of which feature child protagonists that seek out truth about violent family secrets, but ultimately reject it as a means of self-preservation, thus offering a pessimistic outlook on the futurity of Spanish democracy that likewise remains haunted by the specter of dictatorship. Chapter Two, “Remembering, Representing, and Reacting to Latin American Horror,” compares and contrasts the Chilean film Trauma (2018), which relies on the conventions of the torture porn/splatter subgenre to educate about the violence endured during Pinochet’s reign, with the Guatemalan La Llorona (2019), which diverges from typical conventions to show how even supposedly apolitical or benign characters have upheld and benefitted from narratives that justify the use of state violence. Chapter Three, “Capitalist Latinx Horror,” analyzes how Sleep Dealer (2008), Culture Shock (2018), and Beneath Us (2019) subvert the emblematic American myths regarding the United States as being a land of opportunity where dreams are made in a post-race society by showing how, in order to maximize profit, it must rely on the labor of unseen and underpaid undocumented workers as malleable and disposable entities. The recent surge of political horror films offers both a warning about a return to authoritarian rule vis-à-vis the simultaneous rise of far-right political leaders while also providing an introspective experience for audience members in which we must come to terms with our own complicity in extractive and violent behaviors within the globalized neoliberal world order.


“The Power of Art-Dread in La Llorona (2019)” (in progress)


Conference Talks

“Negotiating Double Binds and Double Consciousness in Beneath Us (2010).”
Latina/o Studies Association Conference, South Bend IN, July 2022

"Intergenerational Female Violence in La Llorona (2019)."
Latin American Studies Association, Virtual Conference, May 2022

“Grim Virtual Realities in Sleep Dealer (2008) and Culture Shock (2019).”
Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Virtual Conference, March 2022

“A Picture Says One Thousand Words.” Kentucky World Language Association, Virtual Conference, September 2021

“The Politics of Diversity, Inclusion, and Colorblindness in Coco (2017).” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Virtual Conference, March 2021

Invited Talks and Lectures

Guest Lecture: “Understanding Latinidad and Cultural Productions in the U.S. South.” Undergraduate seminar of Professor Arcelia Gutiérrez: Spanish 474, “Latinx in Media & Popular Culture.” University of Kentucky. April 2021.

Teaching Experience in Spanish (instructor of record)











University of Kentucky

SPA 372-Spanish Cinema: From Silent Film to the Latest Trends (Teaching Assistant to Prof. Carmen Moreno-Nuño)

SPA 310-Cultural Analysis & Advanced Composition for Spanish Majors & Minors

SPA 211-Intermediate Conversation

SPA 202-Intermediate Spanish II

SPA 201-Intermediate Spanish I

SPA 102-Elementary Spanish II

SPA 101-Elementary Spanish I

The Ohio State University

SPA 1103-Spanish III

Bowling Green State University

SPA 1010-Elementary Spanish I

SPA 1020-Elementary Spanish II

Research Experience


Research Assistant for Jillian Báez, Associate Professor of Africana/Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College (Summer 2021-Summer 2022)

Research Assistant for Carmen Moreno-Nuño, Professor of Contemporary Spanish Cultural Studies, University of Kentucky (Spring-Summer 2021)

Service, University of Kentucky

Assistant Director, Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (2021-2023)

Hispanic Studies Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (2021-2023)

Advisor for Graduate Student-Led Journal disClosure (2021-2022)

Hispanic Studies Graduate Assistant, Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (2019-2021)

Summer Graduate Assistant for the development and design of virtual Elementary Spanish I & II courses (Summer 2020)

Vice President of Hispanic Studies Graduate Student Association (2019-2020)

Panel organizer and moderator, Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (2018-present)

Tutor at La Mesa del Español for undergraduate students (2018-present)

Research and Teaching Interests

20th- and 21st-century Spanish, Latin American, Latinx, and U.S. cultural production

Film and media studies

Feminist and gender theory

Social Theory

Cultural and critical theory

Professional Organization


Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

Latina/o Studies Association (LSA)

Modern Language Association (MLA)

Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS; Latinx and Horror Studies)